Warriors must win in Brunei to keep S.League title race alive
BRUNEI DPMM v WARRIORS FC
(Tonight, 8.15pm, Bandar Seri Begawan)
He has been through the disappointment of conceding the S.League title to a foreign team, and national goalkeeper Hassan Sunny is loathe to go through the painful experience all over again.
"It was terrible," said the 30-year-old, who was still wincing at the thought of the 2010 season, when he played for a Tampines side that finished a point behind French winners Etoile FC.
"It shows that the local teams have not stepped up, and I really don't want to see a repeat of that, so we really must beat Brunei DPMM tonight."
Now turning out for Warriors FC, Hassan needs to put up another top-drawer performance between the sticks in Bandar Seri Begawan to prevent the Brunei side from lifting their first S.League title.
Hassan said: "We are five points behind them now. If we lose, the gap will be eight points with just three games left and I don't see them losing all three games.
DO OR DIE
"It really is do-or-die for us now if we want to win the league."
Even though left back Zulfadli Zainal Abidin and central midfielder Thomas Beattie are suspended, there is still good news for Hassan and his teammates in this win-or-bust encounter.
Right back Ismail Yunos is back from injury, which allows Irwan Shah to fill in at left back.
Ten-goal Miroslav Pejic has also recovered from injury and should start alongside 18-goal striker Nicolas Velez, with Shi Jiayi and Suria Prakash expected to support them from midfield.
DPMM must cope without the suspended striker Rodrigo Tosi, who tops the scoring chart with 22 goals, and Hassan feels this gives a big advantage for the Warriors.
He added: "We know they have other dangerous players such as Roy O'Donovan and Azwan Ali, but with his goals and assists, Rodrigo is the main reason DPMM are top of the table.
"Their attack won't be as sharp without him, and we must take advantage of the situation."
The Warriors won't be lacking in confidence either, having beaten the Wasps 1-0 at home in May.
DPMM have also shown vulnerability at home this term.
Home United and Tampines have won in the Bruneian capital, while Geylang and Hougang have earned draws there as well.
DO IT AGAIN
Warriors coach Alex Weaver, who has transformed them into a title-chasing team after two seasons of mid-table mediocrity, said: "We've done it before, we can take three points again. We have to.
"Warriors are a big club with a rich history. With the players and the characters we have brought in, I was confident we would do well and be around and about in the title race.
"We haven't been as consistent as we would have liked but that is also down to the quality of the league, where any team is capable of taking points off the top teams.
"We have a very good goalkeeper and defenders as well, so if we can get a clean sheet, we have a good chance to win because we will create opportunities up front with our fast and exciting players."
Hassan will happily take the three points any which way it comes.
He said: "We have good free-kick takers and good headers of the ball. This will not be an easy match to win, but we are ready to fight to keep our title hopes alive."